Friday, December 31, 2010

Historically, while I've never been an official member of the party, I've identified with Republicans. Their emphasis on a business friendly government that requires personal responsibility has always been attractive to me. I even stuck with the Republicans through George W. After all, an inarticulate leader does not ruin an entire philosophy for me.

However, the Republicans' antics this past year has finally driven me away. The last straw has been their stance on the net neutrality policy of the FCC which restricts ISP's ability to filter traffic based on content or who it comes from. Basically, this policy prevents ISPs from putting together a cable type of service where $20/month gets you Bing and CNN, $30/month gets you Google and NPR, $40/month if you want YouTube, etc. This is a really good idea(tm).

The republican position can be summed up by this statement from Rep. John Boehner: "Today's action by the FCC will hurt our economy, stifle private-sector job creation, and undermine the entrepreneurship and innovation of Internet-related American employers."

When John gets off the phone with his best friends, the lobbyists from the big ISPs, perhaps he can explain how a policy that keeps the internet as free as it's always been and prevents new startups from being crushed right out of the gate by ISPs who want them to pay extra to access their customers--actually stifles innovation?

In an irony that must be completely lost on the Republicans, this policy by the FCC does the exact opposite of what their claiming. It protects small companies from being crushed by large ISPs, it allows all companies to connect with all their customers regardless of what ISP they have, allowing Internet companies to continue to attract new customers and grow. It prevents ISPs from dictating what types of services their customers use, allowing the next Skype and Facebook to come into existence without having to get the permission of the cable companies. This policy is good from every aspect you look at it.

It seems to me the only reason to oppose this policy is if the telcoms and cable companies have you in their pocket. There is no other reason for a politician who is ostensibly working for the good of the community to oppose this. The denouncement of this policy from all across the Republican party leaves me to conclude that the party may be blinded by lobbyists and industry to the point where they only care about business, even to the detriment of the citizens. This is a huge shift in position for me, but there's no other choice if I'm to assume Republican politicians are at all logical.

The second big thing that has driven me away from my relationship with the party is their stance on the health care reform law. While I agree the law isn't ideal, it's at least a start. Let's use this start and modify it and improve it so we can have a good universal health care system.

But, unfortunately, the Republicans are shouting nothing but, "repeal!" Or, if they can't repeal it, underfund it so it can never be implimented. Ok, so what's the alternative offered by the party? Is it so radically different from the new laws that we have to junk the new laws and start over? Actually, no. Here and here describe what the Republicans want. Amazingly, these ideas are fairly similar to the health care reform law and can be implimented largely by tweaks to the new law.

So, why are the Republicans irrationally shouting "repeal"? Political theater. Political theater is unavoidable in politics. However, in this case, if repeal were to actually happen, we'll go back to the old incredibly broken system and people will die or go bankrupt due to lack of health insurance. So, this theater has real life and death consequences for every citizen, and Republicans are on the wrong side of line this time. There's no way I can stand with them in this position they've chosen.

I hope the Republicans can get some strong moral leaders soon, and enough backbone to follow them. I'll be waiting and willing to re-kindle my relationship with the party because, while I'm not a Republican, I'm certainly not a Democrat.